Euractive – Industry: Geothermal energy requires European policy solutions

Euractiv recently featured an article with Sanjeev Kumar, the Head of Policy at the European Geothermal Energy Council, on the promise of geothermal in Europe, especially during the time of their energy crisis. Geothermal power is a reliable, renewable, and local energy source that offers baseload power generation. Alongside other renewable heat sources and energy efficiency measures, geothermal power could be part of the solution to the energy crisis.

Geothermal provides an endless power source with billions of years’ worth of heat, meaning no supply issues. It makes perfect sense for regulators to invest time working out how to utilize this power source. It isn’t necessarily the answer to everything but balanced with wind, PV, solar thermal, or other renewable energies, one could essentially decarbonize the largest energy-consuming parts of the economy. Geothermal allows for a 100% renewable energy system to be obtainable. It needs to be part of the public conversation, either as a geothermal strategy or a geological strategy at the European level.

Geothermal has lacked the attraction of wind and solar partly because the technology is hidden as it’s underground, and the projects are much bigger to get underway. The main difference between wind and solar versus geothermal is that wind and solar are manufactured. For closed loop geothermal, it’s an engineered project so it fits more easily with the available resources and location. The struggle in the industry is standardizing as much of its licensing, permitting project financing, and risk mitigation as possible. Currently, these skill sets are focused on chasing oil and gas.

The challenge over the next decade regarding geothermal is less about technology and more about business model innovation. The focus needs to shift to creating a market for renewable heat for the industry to move. The main restraint in terms of regulation is political will. Unlike other countries such as the US, Iceland, Turkey, and China, Europe doesn’t have the political will to support geothermal power.

Closed-loop systems also offer an out for oil and gas. The basis of engineering is geological understanding and horizontal drilling which are also the mainstay of the oil and gas industry. The sector needs more of the standardized regulations and products in the way that oil and gas have done. Importantly, when geothermal has that foundation in place, it is expected that significant volumes of growth for renewable energy will follow at the expense of fossils. This is beneficial for jobs, sustainable growth, the environment, and the climate.

To read the full article, click here.

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